Diversity in television is on the rise, and that’s a good thing for business. According to UCLA’s 2021 Hollywood Diversity Report, television is becoming more diverse for two reasons. The first is the move towards streaming, rather than broadcast or cable, with streaming services making money off paid subscribers instead of ad revenue, meaning streaming services can seek out niche and esoteric audiences that older media would sometimes actively avoid.
Fox’s series “Call Me Kat” is notable for having a diverse cast in terms of age, race, gender, and sexual orientation. For example, Leslie Jordan, who played Phil on the show, with both the character and the actor being openly gay. In an interview with Sania Twain on her “Home Now” radio show, Jordan explained how being bullied for being gay led him to comedy. “I learned very early to be funny to keep the bullies at bay,” Jordan explained. “The minute they started bullying me, I could make them laugh. That was my defense mechanism” (via People).
Sadly, Leslie Jordan died in a car accident after suffering an unknown medical emergency. The show was put on hold following Jordan’s death, according to Deadline. According to NBC News, Leslie Jordan represented the LGBTQ+ members of the baby boomers generation, a generation hit hard by the AIDS epidemic in the ’80s and ’90s. As both an LGBTQ+ performer and a member of a generation where gay rights were less accepted, Jordan occupied a special role on “Call Me Kat” in reflecting a demographic of older gay men often forgotten about. Series star Mayim Bialik says that the show’s diversity is something she’s particularly proud of.
Exploring the diversity in Call Me Kat
In an interview with Sci-Fi Vision, Mayim Bialik talked about how proud she was of “Call Me Kat” having such a diverse group of characters. “In some ways in the industry, it’s like the elephant in the room, and it’s not; we have a very diverse cast,” Bialik told Sci-Fi Vision. “We represent a variety of ages and colors and orientations, and, for us, I think it’s something our writers are really leaning into in a really comfortable way. It’s really special for us to have a cast where we are not segregated in our activities on camera or off.” Bialik went on to talk about one of her favorite jokes, when Carter (Julian Grant) told Randi (Kyla Pratt) that they need more black friends, something that Bialik feels highlights the show’s diversity.
The diverse cast is a big part of what makes the show successful, particularly because the clashing between disparate cultures creates hilarious conflicts. For example, in the Season 3 holiday episode, “Call Me Chrismukkah,” a good number of jokes come from Kat’s invented Christmas-Hanukkah combination holiday that she calls Chrismukkah. Furthermore, in the same episode, Randi (Kyla Pratt) jokes with Carter (Julian Gant) that he can make up his lost revenue from being removed from the annual holiday pub crawl by simply charging white people double on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a comment that the white characters agree would work. For “Call Me Kat,” diversity is a comedy gold mine.